1. Why did you decide to begin a nomadic life and what does it mean to you?
Travelling is intertwined with my soul, so I always knew I would be a nomad. I never thought to become a digital one however. At least, not until the opportunity came to me and I became aware that this could be a possible lifestyle. When I dreamed about traveling, the internet wasn’t as huge as it is now (this was 20 years ago). I was already a traveler, but I knew that I needed to find a way to keep going. Short version – I decided to take a year to travel. Just when I made this decision, things actually started happening. I met amazing people who helped clear my mind and helped me to actually follow my dreams. Step by step, I began to discover the world and a couple of months after my first sabbatic year, I began looking for a job. I then had the opportunity to apply to my current job after a friend referred me to it.. I will always remember that I asked in the interview if I could continue traveling while working. When they replied: YES, I knew I was about to become a digital nomad and many doors would be opened to me. Who, when presented with this opportunity and having a travel soul, wouldn’t decide to do the same thing that I did?
Now it means that I’m able to live the best dream I ever had. I dreamed about traveling abroad all my life, however my idea was to stay in the place/city/country and find a temporary job before continuing to the next location. Working online gives me the freedom I was looking for as I’m able to move, discover and decide where I want to be, and how long I want to stay without there being a return ticket. I’m the only one who decides when and where I want to stop.
2. How do you earn an income now?
I work as a Customer Support Agent at Fiverr, which is a global online marketplace that offers freelancers the opportunity to complete tasks and services for clients.
3. How many hours do you work on average on a typical day?
I work 5 days a week, 9 hours per day, sometimes more when necesssary. I like my job.
4. What is your approximate travel budget for a year? Any tips on how to lower it?
This is a difficult question. I know traveling in Europe is expensive, when compared to Central America or Asia, so I try to alternate between visiting those regions. I can be in Europe for a 90-day period then move to Turkey or Asia were my budget will decrease and I will be able to save more money for the more expensive countries. So my budget per year is not constant as it depends on which countries I would be visiting. Let’s use an example – countries like Norway, Denmark and Holland have high accommodation and transport costs, but If I combine them with Hungary, Poland and Portugal, then I can decrease my budget and maintain it. In other words, I know that I can spend up to $1000 – $1500 per month when traveling through the expensive countries but I can also spend less than half of that and save when visiting the other ones.
I’m a fan or, better yet, I’m addicted to finding cheap flight tickets. You need to be flexible with dates to find awesome prices. I almost only seek out “one way” tickets. I have found flights from NY – to Oslo at $170 and the cheapest one, from Porto to Lisbon $6. I would recommend that persons play with dates and destinations, and choose alternative airports.
I also combine accommodation types – sometimes choosing Hostels, Airbnb or the home of friends. This also depends on whether you want to socialize or not and how long I would want to stay in a place. It’s not just about money. It also depends on whether I need time out for some “me quality time”. Sadly, I don’t do couchsurfing as much as I would like to. I have to work and it wouldn’t be couchsurfing if I can’t share with my host. Probably just on my days off.
Since this is a lifestyle, I do enjoy normal, simple things such as cooking, watching a movie or even doing nothing. I also don’t go out every night. Last but not least, check out debit and credit cards for lower withdrawal fees – this will also decrease your budget.
5. What would you consider to be one of the best tools for becoming a digital nomad?
Flexibility, an open mind, an internet USB stick and light luggage.
You will be constantly moving, you cannot control everything, and you will find many surprises on the road. You therefore need to be prepared to find solutions, and not allow yourself to freak out so much that you can not resolve those situations. Everyone who is the road knows that things won’t necessarily go as planned.
In Europe and in America, I carry my USB stick and buy local sim cards, if I doubt the internet connection of a particular location. This is my internet backup. Also, do not forget that the lighter you travel, the happier you will be.
6. Do you have any advice for those starting a digital nomad life?
- Learn who to listen to. There are many persons who will encourage you, but there will also be many more who would think and advise you NOT to start following your dreams. You should develop a radar to recognize those frustrated persons who only have negative comments and pessimist points on view. Stay away from those who are afraid and/or envy your courage. Choose wisely who to listen to and who to admire.
- Invest in your working tools. If your source of income is a computer, invest in one that is better suited to your job.
- Count to 100 when the internet is not working.- This happens.
- Keep learning. This lifestyle also requires that you continue improving yourself.
- Trust your guts. While traveling you will increase your perception + your common sense. Believe in the magic and follow your instinct. “Those who don’t believe in magic, will never find it” – Roald Dhal
7. How long have you been traveling and where have you been? Do you have a favourite place in the world?
I’ve been traveling for 3 and a half years. A friend said that I was not an efficient traveller because based on the time I have been on the road, I should have been all around the world by now. I would say though that I just go with my own flow. So far I’ve been to 35 countries, in America, Europe and Asia.
Yes, I have some favorite places and I’m planning to add more to this list:
1. Lovely messy Istanbul, Turkey 2. Amsterdam, Netherlands 3. Montecatini, Italy
8. What is your travel frequency? How often do you change the place you stay and do you have a home base?
This is totally relative. There is not a set frequency for me. Sometimes I stay in a place just for a couple of days, then if I really feel like I want to stay, I do it, as I did in Istanbul. I have been there for 8 months out of the 3.5 years. I’m planning to stay longer in other places, starting at the end of this year. I consider Istanbul one of my home bases, however Houston in the USA is also one, as I always go back there.
9. How do you manage the distance from family and friends? Do you miss having an established home and a wardrobe without a weight limit?
I miss my family and my friends. I try to be in touch as much as I can, and I like to send them videos sharing short stories of my trips. When it is that I go to visit them, I truly enjoy my time with them. I’m a quality time fan and this is one of my ways that I show love. Recently, I’ve decided to visit them with more frequency. I’m planning to go back to Guatemala at least twice a year and I would like to spend up to 1 month there.
Friends – this is an interesting topic. Sometimes people will ask me if it is truly possible to have real friends considering my constant movements. They believe is not possible to develop a friendship; I see things in a different way. I consider myself a person who cares a lot about friendships and I like to show my friends that they can really count on me. I also organize some of my trips just to go back and visit them wherever they are, and we sometimes travel together, which is amazing. Sharing with them is one of the things that I love the most as this really helps us bond.
When I miss having an established home, I create one. It’s just that my definition of “established” is different in terms of time. I believe in change and impermanence, but I have been considering the Idea of having an apartment and renting it out while I’m not there.
10. Could you imagine keeping up the digital nomad lifestyle for the rest of your life?
I imagine myself doing this because it makes me happy. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place. If there’s anything I probably would change, it would be the time I spend in every country. The periods of time would be longer.
Sometimes people misunderstand and do not take into consideration the fact that digital nomads and travelers generally choose to live this life. In that same way, we are also free to decide when to stop, should we change our minds. We know what makes us happy and we seek to follow that.
So, what are you waiting for?
This should have been motivation enough for you to leave your comfort zone and meet Alicia personally. She is a real-life digital nomad who will be awaiting your visit.
We are happy to welcome Alicia soon and we would be even more pleased to see you there as well.
By the way, if you should be so unlucky as to miss the event, stay informed with our newsletter or follow us on facebook. The next digital nomad trainer will be announced soon.